It's mid-January, and already I feel the self-imposed pressure of sticking to my New Year's resolutions. I'll be honest: Sometimes, I just don't feel like following through with these new goals. Stepping out of my comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. It's much easier for me to adhere to old habits and ways of doing things than to work hard at something new; change is always difficult, I guess. That said, I'm not ready to give up. In thinking about keeping up with my own New Year's resolutions, I outlined the following tips that have proved effective, thus far.
Being realistic about new goals and resolutions helps because it makes them more achievable. When we set our goals too high or make them unrealistic, we're setting ourselves up for failure. In order to be realistic about new goals, we need to have a pretty good understanding of our own thoughts and behaviors. If you set your New Year's resolutions in December, but feel overwhelmed thinking about them now, chances are, you've set the bar too high. Be mindful about what you want to achieve, and try revising resolutions to make them more manageable.
Be Kind to Yourself
Don't be too strict or hard on yourself if you find yourself failing to live up to your resolutions. Without failure, there would be no success. Sometimes, we need failure to teach us how to succeed. If you veer off track, you can always steer yourself back. Forgive yourself if you feel like you've failed in some way. Take a step back and think about why you failed, and then think about how you can still succeed. Remember, you've got a whole year to live up to your resolutions so there's still time to succeed. If you need to revise your resolutions to make them more realistic, give yourself permission to do so.
It's helpful to accept that you may not succeed from the get go. Think of it as a slight trick of the mind. If you're at peace with yourself no matter the outcome, you're more likely to be kind to yourself, which will in turn, reinforce your ability to do what is best for you -- in most cases, that may mean keeping your New Year's resolutions. In other cases, however, you may find the New Year's resolutions you set for yourself are, in fact, not in your best interest. In this case, it's okay to let them go without beating yourself up.
When we bring mindfulness into our daily activities, we become more aware of our internal and external environments. More awareness in the present moment cultivates better decision-making. In other words, when we're more aware of what and why we're doing something from moment to moment, we can more easily make time and space for what is most important to us. In many cases, keeping a New Year's resolution may require extra time and space. For example, if your goal is to exercise more, chances are, you'll need to find the time to exercise, which requires reorganizing your schedule. In addition to finding the physical time and space to exercise though, you'll also need to find the mental space to exercise. Take a few minutes each day to clear your mind before tackling those resolutions. This exercise should help you become more aware of negative thoughts that can unconsciously stand in the way of achieving your goals.
Find the silver lining
If there is nothing fun about your resolutions, chances are, you won't succeed. When we look forward to something, we're usually more motivated to spend the necessary energy doing it. This doesn't mean that your resolution should always be a "fun" activity, but rather, that you find at least one aspect of the activity or goal that is positive. If the resolution is dieting, for example, you may not see the fun in dieting on the surface, but breaking the activity down can lead to things like, wearing the bikini you've always wanted to wear at the beach in the summer, or finally being able to wear your favorite dress that's been sitting in your closet waiting for you to lose a few pounds. New Year's resolutions tend to be activities we set to improve ourselves in some way, and most of the time, we don't look forward to doing more "work." Work, however, can be more pleasant when we find something about it that serves a purpose, is interesting, exciting or fun.